What I have learned about Plein Air….

Plein Air Painter

I am unabashedly a studio painter.  Oh sure, occasionally in the summer months I set up an easel system in my garage and paint.  In my old neighborhood the kids would sneak over, filled with curiosity as to what Mrs. Barron was up to in her garage with the music blaring.  But that was about as close to Plein Air as I have ever gotten.  Now I am living where there is a major Plein Air Competition held by the Cedarburg Artists Guild (www.cedarburgartistsguild.com) every year.

I love my intimate environment with my canvas and paints.  It is important for me to build a relationship with my subject matter.  So I was rather perplexed trying to figure out how to be involved, enjoy the weather (when it was nice this past week), and meet other artists now that it’s no longer too cold to be out and about.  While at a Guild meeting I realized that I could use my time to walk around, meet some of the artists who have come here to participate, and do some interviewing with photos to share with all those who are friends of the guild’s Facebook page.  During this time I have benefitted more than I thought I would.

I have met some amazing artists and seen how they treat their canvases for outdoor painting.  I have seen many different ground colors used.  In fact, one artist used a very bright green undertone which he felt would be difficult to paint over but halfway through the painting he discovered that bright lime tone gave such inner light to his landscape.   We have shared discussions on numbers of brushes to bring, use, and the challenges with whichever they have decided.  However, I believe the most important lesson to be learned from plein air painting is the need to make quick decisions as the light changes so rapidly.  As an artist we forget to use our instincts and I believe plein air painting encourages us to push our talents to the top without allowing our safety devices to get in the way.  A lesson that I hope will stay with me forever.

Most artists have enjoyed the conversations by passerby people walking down the sidewalks and have been so gracious to allow me to invade their space with my pad, pen, camera, and questions.  I’d like to thank them all for their time!

Even though I didn’t paint this year in the competition, I do believe I came out a winner for having met those that I have talked to and for learning all that I have which will provide me that additional courage to participate fully next year.  If you are in the Cedarburg, Wisconsin area I hope you’ll come on out for Strawberry Festival on Saturday and head over to the Cedarburg Cultural Center (www.cedarburgculturalcenter.org) to see the plein air paintings and perhaps bid on one in the auction that begins at 4:30pm.

Hope to see you there!

2010 Chicago Art Open

Chicago Art Open
Chicago Art Open - River East Art Center 2010

It was so incredible to be chosen to exhibit at the River East Art Center for the 2010 Chicago Art Open hosted by Chicago Artists Coalition.  First of all the River East Art Center is such an exquisite gallery space to visit…but to have work there too…sublime.

Gathered were 350 works of art by various artists with varying degrees of experience and a multitude of media.  It was hung salon style and I was so delighted to see my piece in the center of the wall!!!  There was an entire room of paintings, flanked with rooms filled with mixed media and drawings.  It was all a feast for the eyes.

I’ve personally come to the conclusion, over this past year, that being an artist is similar to what I imagine having a bi-polar disorder would be like.  These past two weeks I have been on such a manic high.  I have experienced amazing things in my career and I know in a few weeks when things are slower I will be craving the rush of these past 15 days.

The Discovery Ball was an amazing event!! It was like being in a fairy tale.  The Friday before (23rd) as I was installing the auction gallery artwork, I was walking behind a couple of people.  As they entered the gallery set up one looked at the other and said “Wow…this gallery is SO much better than last year!”.  Music to my ears!  I had accomplished what I had envisioned for this years artwork offerings.  The rest would be gravy for I knew if it was better than last year than surely people would purchase the artwork providing funding for cancer research and the like.  Success…..  Actually half of the artwork was purchased and the other half will be offered this summer at the ACS Skyline Soiree which information can be found at SkylineSoiree.  Please consider attending if you are the Chicago area for this event is a young urban professional event and a TON of fun.  It’s being held at the Harris Theater rooftop in Millenium Park in the loop.   I have to graciously thank the amazingly generous artists who all contributed to the success of this event’s gallery!  Unlike last year, this year’s gallery became a gathering place for people.  It was so exciting to see people congregate in the gallery and discuss the artwork along with a range of other topics.  Here’s a picture of the crowd from an upper balcony and a picture of people in the gallery…

Discovery Ball from above.

Discovery Ball Gallery

A week after the fairy tale event was my next opportunity.  I organized and curated an art sale that was being held as part of the TriCity Family Services Art of Giving first annual event.  This wine tasting / art sale was being held to raise money for TriCity to continue to provide counseling services for people who cannot afford it in the TriCity area of Batavia/Geneva/St. Charles in Illinois.  TCFS partnered with Water Street Studios and we were honored to have ten of their artists put their artwork on display with 30% of the sale proceeds being donated back to TCFS.  I too was able to include a painting.  We had over 100 people in attendance and I was even interviewed by the Daily Herald in a story about what I am hoping to make a career out of along with a connection to the event.  The article can be found HERE if you wish to read it.  We had some artwork sell…of course its never nearly enough.  🙂

So…during these past couple of weeks I’ve had the success of two events helping others, a published interview, and a painting in the Chicago Art Open.  Now if I can only sustain this….that’s what I’ll be working very hard on.

As a reflectionary note….thank you to anyone who has come to see my blog over this past year.  We are quickly coming up on my one year anniversary of my BFA graduation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  It’s been a whirlwind of a year and I am so thankful to all who have been so supportive and given me an opportunity to make a difference or show what I am made of.  I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year will bring…..

Until then I remain….artistically optimistic!